Valentino returns to cultural roots of Chinese New Year through the lens of red

    Intertwining tradition and modernity, the Italian house captures the essence of Chinese New Year in Rosso Red, fostering cultural dialogue through color.
    Photo: Valentino
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    As Chinese New Year approaches, a rich tapestry of red hues envelops various dimensions of life, heralding the arrival of the festive season.

    In the realm of luxury, where red prevails during this celebration, Valentino distinguishes itself with “Rosso Red” as a pivotal stylistic element. The color serves as an intrinsic link between the brand’s iconic aesthetics and China’s rich heritage, infusing conventional perspectives with profound meaning.

    As part of its ongoing exploration of culture, Valentino has released a campaign film titled The Beginning of Red, which unravels narratives connected to the color red in the traditional cultures of three Chinese cities — Hangzhou, Quanzhou, and Taizhou.

    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino
    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino

    This humanistic approach creates a captivating interplay with the brand's distinctive style and the symbolism of red in Eastern culture.

    The narrative delves into how Valentino captures the confluence of “Rosso Red” and “Chinese Red.” Utilizing color as a marketing tool, the brand establishes an emotional connection with local consumers and deeply engages with traditional Chinese culture, establishing itself as a benchmark for luxury brands’ local cultural narratives.

    Photo: Xiaohongshu user @Yaolei York
    Photo: Xiaohongshu user @Yaolei York

    The color of connection#

    Tracing back thousands of years in Chinese cultural history, the significance of red extends beyond its visual appeal. It embodies the desire to ward off evil and attain prosperity.

    Red also conveys semantic layers representing joy, auspiciousness, and warmth, evolving into a symbol within Chinese traditional culture. Over time, it became ubiquitous in streets and alleys.

    For Valentino, converging Chinese New Year customs with the color red is an intuitive and resonant choice. For this 2024 Chinese New Year collection, the brand once again situates its red aesthetic within an Eastern context, establishing an emotional connection with local consumers.

    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino
    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino

    Given the color’s prominence, releasing limited-edition Chinese New Year offerings can be considered cliché. Today’s luxury consumers demand that brands take a nuanced approach to local culture and unearth stories that resonate emotionally with them.

    In Valentino’s case, the red color encapsulates the house’s profound perception and understanding of Chinese traditional culture, which has been validated via its campaign film, The Beginning of Red. Encompassing three chapters narrated by Li Ronghao, Guan Xiaotong, and Sun Li, the documentary explores the cultural significance of “red” in the context of the Chinese New Year by spotlighting the red seal ink pad of Hangzhou, the Hong Tuan (red sticky rice cake) of Quanzhou, and the Xianju boneless paper lanterns of Taizhou.

    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino
    Valentino’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. Photo: Valentino

    Diving into traditional Chinese culture#

    Red has been at the core of Valentino's identity since long before the Chinese New Year 2024 campaign. In 1959, Valentino made a bold statement in the world of fashion with the introduction of its inaugural red tulle dress, “Fiesta,” a precursor to the brand's subsequent global acclaim for a myriad of red haute couture gowns.

    Red has long been at the core of Valentino's identity. Photo: Valentino
    Red has long been at the core of Valentino's identity. Photo: Valentino

    In 2022, Valentino held the Forever Valentino exhibition in Qatar, displaying classic pieces from its archive spanning over 60 years, and published the book Valentino Rosso, which emphasizes the symbolic importance of red to the brand.

    Undoubtedly, Valentino, with red as its core color asset, possesses a natural and irreplaceable advantage in Chinese New Year marketing.

    As the Chinese luxury market matures, local consumers demand more from brands’ localized marketing strategies. The exploration of “red” stories in three cities by Valentino goes beyond a singular marketing effort during the festive season. In fact, the house’s Chinese New Year 2024 campaign demonstrates its commitment to engaging, documenting, and promoting local culture through the lens of color.

    Moreover, the creativity reflected in the craftsmanship not only enriches the cultural significance of Valentino Rosso Red but also deepens the brand’s integration with Chinese traditional culture.

    Reflecting on historical cases, the color red emerges as a recurrent bridge between Valentino and the Chinese market, evolving into a classic paradigm within the traditional Chinese context over the past decade. A pivotal moment in this narrative unfolded in 2013 when then-creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli presented a specially designed collection for Shanghai, boldly interpreting it through a monochromatic palette, with red taking center stage.

    In 2019, Valentino hosted a grand showcase of its haute couture Beijing collection at the Summer Palace. This event seamlessly blended Chinese classical and Italian Renaissance cultures, with the Peony Pavilion serving as the backdrop for a concoction of Italian opera and traditional Chinese elements. Behind this artistic convergence lies Valentino's consistent interest in and respect for Chinese traditional culture.

    Valentino’s haute couture fashion show in Beijing. Photo: Valentino
    Valentino’s haute couture fashion show in Beijing. Photo: Valentino

    In March 2023, Valentino commissioned Chinese celebrity stylist Mix Wei to curate the window front of Valentino’s Shanghai IFC boutique. Drawing inspiration from China's traditional five-color system — which includes red, blue, yellow, black, and white — Wei’s design offers a contemporary spin on the visual tapestry of Eastern hues.

    Given these localized marketing efforts, Valentino's ambitions in China are evident. By establishing a genuine dialogue with local consumers, the Italian house is assuming a greater role in shaping contemporary Chinese fashion narratives, with “red” being just the beginning.

    Presented by Valentino.

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